The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 18:18-27
Imagine being so wealthy that you couldn’t even look over your piles of riches.
When we were kids we would dream about what we would buy if we had a million dollars. When people play the lottery they still fantasize the same way. But can you imagine being so rich that you couldn’t even see over the piles of wealth?
In a way this is exactly what we see with this rich man who has come to the Lord Jesus. He asks what he must do to be saved….but he doesn’t really like the final answer given by the Lord Jesus. What the Lord finally says to the rich man is this “go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and come follow me.”
This poor rich man is so rich that he cannot change his perspective. He cannot see past the piles to what is really important. This man is so worried about what will happen to his wealth that he cannot even imagine the fact that what is standing on the other side of that pile of wealth is much more than he could ever have dreamed of….
People have found it fashionable to pick on the wealthy. Often they do so because they have ulterior motives and agendas. They find it wrong to be wealthy, but they find it acceptable to forcefully take that wealth from some to give it to others. By this manner they substitute one wrong with another. But in the Scriptures wealth comes in many forms. It is the wealth of the heart that the Lord despises. Why? Because if we feel rich we are usually under the illusion that we don’t need anything or anyone else, even God.
This rich man could not measure the pain of selling off everything he owned. He could not imagine the joy that was waiting for him on the other side of that pile. The rich man was desperate to keep all that he had. He could not imagine that what was waiting on the other side of the pile was worth much more than all the silver and gold in the whole world. Our Lord Jesus Christ was waiting on the other side. He did not ask much in return for what He offered. He simply asks the man to treat his everything as if it is nothing. The Lord did not require much of the man, He simply asked the man to remove the pile, the obstacle that was standing in between them.
Today and every day, you and I are asked to do exactly the same thing. We fast, we pray fervently and we ask God to remove the piles in our heart. These are the piles of junk that stand between us and a relationship with God. That is why the Lord says it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. It doesn’t matter what kind of riches they have. It could be intelligence, career, money, real estate, beauty, strength, pride, confidence….whatever it is that is causing us difficulty in following the Lord Jesus. Any one of these things is enough to keep us out of the loving arms of Jesus Christ.
What would we do if the Lord told us to give up everything that was important to us to follow Him? If we understood how much He loved us we might think about it seriously. If we understood the honor and the blessing of being asked to follow Him we would not hesitate one bit.
The reason that we can talk about St. Peter and Paul and Matthew and the other disciples is because they obeyed. The reason the world still remembers St. Anthony the Great is because he heard this gospel reading in church and trusted God with the rest of his life. Every single day, a pile was put before his heart and every day he pushed it aside while it was still small so that he could continue to follow the Lord.
We think that obedience to the Lord Jesus is tough, and that is true, but Our Lord says “what is impossible with men, is possible with God.”
Do you really want to be saved? Do you want to have a relationship with Our Lord? Do your part to help move these piles in your heart. Fast like it matters. Pray like it will be your last chance to speak to God. Serve others like it is your last day on earth….and when you have no strength left to move the pile another inch, know that you don’t have to move the pile at all. You can simply forget the wealth of your heart. You can walk around the pile and there you will find Jesus. This doesn’t take weeks or months or years. It takes an instant. It is a decision we take every day with every choice we make. These little decisions add up to a life spent adding to our piles or following Our Lord. Let’s not get lost counting worthless piles when the Lord means to give us something much more precious.
May God give us eyes to see the real treasure He has set before us.